050417 Rising tide: Murrells Inlet cleanup reaches new heights
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Volunteers gather trash from a marsh island at the southern end of Murrells Inlet during Spring Tide.
Tanya Ackerman/Coastal Observer

Rising tide: Murrells Inlet cleanup reaches new heights

By Steven Rice
For the Observer

Over 200 volunteers hauled in more than 11 tons of debris from the salt marsh and along Business 17 as summer weather and a fall storm combined to make the 26th annual Spring Tide cleanup the largest in recent years.

Hurricane Matthew last October was the source of much of the trash collected from Murrells Inlet. One day wasn’t enough to gather it all, organizers and volunteers said. The cleanup event, sponsored by the Murrells Inlet 2020 community group, attracted veterans and newcomers.

For Socastee residents Sue, Sean and Jack Brennan, who hauled in a barnacled black dock float on their boat, it was simply a matter of helping out. “We really enjoy coming to the inlet, and it is good to help,” Sue said. This was the first time that the Brennans volunteered, and they went back on the creek after unloading their first load to gather more debris.

Logan Barnes and his wife, Magoo, also enjoyed being part of a community event. The Murrells Inlet couple reside near the Marsh Walk and decided to participate for the first time. “We are trying to keep the inlet beautiful. It would be great for everyone to chip in,” Magoo said.

Logan, a dentist, sported wading boots as he unloaded debris. He joked that he decided not to wear his scrubs for the cleanup. He and his wife had gathered wooden deck planks, a card table and a beach umbrella.

As they were unloading, two older women asked where they could bring a pair of men’s boots, size 7, they had found. “Do you know of anyone who can use them?” asked one.

Another big haul was gathered by Chuck Harrison and Jeff Ciuba. They managed to collect two plastic dock floats, along with wooden deck plank boards. “There is so much more out there,” Harrison said. Their debris was collected near the public landing. He said a more extensive cleanup would be needed in the future, requiring at least 12 boats and 25 volunteers.

Harrison and Ciuba also returned to the creek for a second run.

Suzanne Holton, a Murrells Inlet village resident, said this was her 20th year as a volunteer. She was among several volunteers who sorted recyclable items.

“This event is always lots of fun, and it is community-oriented,” she said.

Lee Arthur, another village resident, has participated in every cleanup, and recalled the time when 14 Dumpsters were needed after Hurricane Hugo. This year, he helped to put the debris in the four Dumpsters.

Among the items found Sunday were a black pair of women’s shorts, a rubber duck, tennis balls, sandals, sunglasses, an edition of the magazine “Secret Garden” and a paperback edition of Louis Sachar’s novel “Holes.”

Keeping a watchful eye and helping to unload debris from the returning boats was Chip Smith, who founded Spring Tide. He said a fall cleanup might take place because of the amount of debris left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

“It is a huge undertaking, and a lot of work,” Smith said.

The day was an especially happy occasion for two volunteers who became husband and wife during an afternoon wedding ceremony at the park.

Tammy Loving and Vince Sherman of Needham, W.Va., had, that morning, brought in debris in a boat driven by Murrells Inlet resident Bill Hills. Loving said that she and Sherman were guests of Hills and his wife, Whitney, previous president of Murrells Inlet 2020.

It was a nine hour ride from the mountains of West Virginia to the inlet. “We have 32 friends who came down with us,” Loving said. They had a rehearsal dinner the night before at Russell’s Seafood restaurant. A more formal wedding will take place back home on May 20.

She and Sherman have been coming to the inlet and participating in the cleanup for many years. His job brings him to the area where he dives for golf balls.

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